Preview: 05 Dec 2019

One by-election on Thursday 5th December 2019:


Rhondda Cynon Taf council, Glamorgan; caused by the resignation of Plaid Cymru councillor Darren Macey.

What’s Christmas without a brass band?

The musicians of the Ynyshir Brass Band are no doubt at full stretch in this busy pre-Christmas period. So are the other voters of Ynyshir, who get to go to the polls this December in two consecutive weeks: next week for the parliamentary election in the Rhondda constituency, this week for a by-election to Rhondda Cynon Taf council. The by-election has come about because Darren Macey, who was elected here for the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru in the May 2017 local elections, has a new job which is part-funded by the council and as such is politically restricted.

Macey leaves behind a division based on two villages in the Rhondda Fach, the eastern of the two Rhondda valleys. Just above the confluence of those two valleys at Porth, Ynyshir is a classic Valleys mining village which did not exist before coal. The first deep coal mine in the Rhondda Fach was sunk in 1845 by Messrs Shepherd and Evans in Ynyshir, and many others followed. One of those, further up the valley, was the National Colliery whose owner, Edmund Hannay Watts, gave his name to the village it spawned: Wattstown. Mining is now long gone here, and Ynyshir and Wattstown have in some respects not recovered from that: the villages have high deprivation rates.

This division has unchanged boundaries since Rhondda Cynon Taf council was created in the 1990s reorganisation. Ynyshir was uncontested at the inaugural 1995 election, and at the following four polls Labour councillor Lionel Langford was returned comfortably. Langford retired in 2017, resulting in an upset gain for Plaid Cymru’s candidate Macey who had a 63-37 lead over the new Labour candidate. This was a year after Plaid Cymru’s then party leader, Leanne Wood, had gained the Rhondda seat in the Senedd (or Welsh Parliament, as we must now call it) on a similarly-large huge swing from Labour. Wood wasn’t the only person from the Rhondda to appear on national television in 2017 in search of votes: Darren Macey’s son Lloyd was a contestant on the 2017 series of X Factor.

Who will have the X Factor in this by-election? Like the 2017 and 2012 elections in Ynyshir, this is a straight fight. Defending for Plaid is Adrian Parry, a former secondary school teacher from Wattstown. Challenging for Labour is Julie Edwards, a community development practitioner and mother of two from Ynyshir.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Rhondda

Juie Edwards (Lab)
Adrian Parry (PC)

May 2017 result PC 692 Lab 414
May 2012 result Lab 606 PC 372
May 2008 result Lab 587 Ind 291 PC 196
June 2004 result Lab 747 PC 368
May 1999 result Lab 870 PC 530
May 1995 result Lab unopposed